Discipline: Ecology Environmental and Earth Sciences
Subcategory: STEM Research
Yong Wang - Alabama A&M University
Co-Author(s): Callie Schweitzer, USDA Forest Service - Southern Research Station, Huntsville, AL Zachary Senwo and Wubishet Tadesse, Alabama A&M University
The Center for Forest Ecosystem Assessment (CFEA) team at Alabama A&M University (AAMU) and the USDA Forest Service’s Southern Research Station have been collaborating for over ten years on the Cumberland Plateau, primarily in the William B. Bankhead National Forest (BNF) in northwestern Alabama. The main research focus has been to determine the most effective means by which to convert an unmanaged loblolly pine forest (~50 years) vulnerable to Southern Pine Beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis) infestations, to a mixed upland hardwood-pine forest, with an emphasis on oak restoration. In 2004, a two-factor randomized complete block design was established in the BNF, with four blocks (~9ha) and nine treatments of varying combinations of thinning and prescribed burning. Apart from the controlled treatments, thinning was either heavy (to ~11m2 basal area) or light (to ~17m2 basal area), and burns have taken place either every 3 or 9 years. The Center is comprised of three sub-projects, with the goal of examining a variety of physical and ecological responses to the combined burning/thinning treatments: (SP1) Forest community responses and dynamics (FC), which examines the ecological and genetic responses of forest macrobiota; (SP2) Forest ecosystem function and processes (FE), which examines the responses of soil chemicals and microbial fauna; and (SP3) Coupled dynamics of humans and landscapes (CD), which examines the ecological and anthropogenic implications of forest management at a landscape level. For many research projects, pre-treatment data has been taken. Thus, flora, fauna, soil, and watershed-level data were recorded prior and (often) just after thinning and each burn cycle. Thus far, 19 faculty researchers, 8 PhD students, and 20 MS students have worked on research directly affiliated with the long-term BNF thinning/burning hardwood restoration project and have published 21 peer-reviewed papers, to date.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): National Science Foundation's CREST Program Alabama EPSCoR Graduate Research Scholars Program Environmental Protection Agency's STAR Graduate Research Fellowship Program Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Faculty Advisor: None Listed,